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Investing: Making It More Accessible for the Average Citizen

 5 min read / 

One links their Facebook account to the bank, and an investment portfolio is generated. And for nearly no cost – seemingly preposterous. Or is it? This article will explore the shifts in views in investing, new opportunities in the market and how investing will become a common practice for the average citizen.

“Should I invest in Bitcoin or Tesla?” This a common question from a friend to anyone in the field of finance. Although the average citizen is still sceptical of the financial markets, it is very difficult to ignore the returns people are making with cryptocurrencies. 

Bank Savings?

No one likes to earn 1% interest on their bank account – or even lower – and lack the flexibility to withdraw whenever they wish. On the other hand, the average citizen is either too afraid to go into investing, or does not trust the system. Hence the idea of earning a high return on their cash becomes a distant reality for many. How and why then, will that citizen place their money elsewhere?

Goals of a Portfolio Manager

Before looking into potential investors, it is perhaps wise to inspect the future of the asset management profession. Setting aside the intricate levels within the industry, a person who manages someone else’s money has one objective and one restriction: to provide the expected returns, according to the risk tolerance of the investor. Within this framework, the portfolio managers gather data, and using their knowledge, transmute data into investment returns.

The Future of Finance

 Investigating and outlining a path for The Future of Professions, Richard and Daniel Susskind focus on the creation and distribution of knowledge. In a nutshell, they argue that most professions will be focused on production and distribution of practical expertise. Such evolution will ease the transition to automation with AI, where distribution channels will use the Internet to deliver personalized and cheaper solutions to customers. At the end of the day, the financial professions known for their monopoly over investment knowledge will lose ground to smarter and faster-acting systems.

Opportunity = Attention

A lucrative business model appears at this point. Entrepreneurs investing in AI could reap the rewards by targeting the masses, as processing data and providing personalized responses
become extremely cheap. IBM’s Watson can connect society to social media and track an investor’s habits, thoughts or preferences. Consequently, the common citizen can receive a personalized portfolio that is usually only available to high net worth individuals. Using this structure, AIs like Watson can invest in ETFs or even attempt to filter stocks that meet their client’s preferences.
The final picture is the combination of AI and personalized ETF/stock portfolios for the masses; those who cannot afford asset managers, and do not want the low rates at banks.

Win-Win?

Although some argue that a good deal for the consumer is bad news for the business owner, this is a unique situation. By providing tailored marketing and sales to clients, the wealth managers can increase their retention and satisfaction rates. And adopting this methodology to serve a larger audience, they can maintain their margins while boosting their inflows. The sacrifice in earnings for growth prospects may not be as harsh as it is in standard business models. Since the attention the required by the masses is handled by AI, wealth managers can focus on their investment strategies.

The Counter Argument

So if investing is so easy, who needs intermediaries? Why would anyone want to pay a fund manager when one could build its own portfolio of ETFs or stocks? At this point, it is sensible to bring up the Apple vs. Android argument. Many techies would argue how an Android phone is superior in technical specifications and in its flexibility in customization. Yet, even under such scrutiny, many go ahead and buy an iPhone. How so? Because the numbers are not the only factors that one takes into account when making a decision.

The seamless purchase, easy access to support and beauty are all qualitative perspectives that prompt people to buy an iPhone. And on top of that, people do not want to overthink. They need a tool for an application and something that solves that conveniently takes their attention.

A similar scene is evident in the field of investment. People do not want to think or stress themselves about building an ETF portfolio. So when there are services providing that exact solution, and at a cheap cost that comes from mass adoption, people will flock into investing more in the capital markets. When or how fast this happens is yet to be seen. One thing, however, is certain: the
average citizen is curious, and this curiosity is building peoples’ desire to invest.

 

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